A post-it says a thousand words
Grab a post-it. Now write down 5 things you would like to be able to say you did or have included in your lifestyle 5 years from today.
What does it even mean to live life to the fullest? It’s not entirely obvious. We all have parts of our life that we love and parts that we like less. We have family, friends, work and responsibilities. Some days the things we usually love are the things we hate and some days just the opposite. So the best you can do is feel as though you’re living a life filled with content. This way, you’ll never be able to say you wish you’d done more. Seen more. Experienced more. And hopefully, the content you choose will take up more space than the things you like less and your life will feel nice and full.
What is content? Sometimes it’s an experience you can tick off your bucket list. Sometimes it’s an ongoing thing you’ve included in your day to day life. Spending time with friends, calling your kids, eating with your family, going to the movies, watching a great TV series, taking a trip, enrolling in a class, going for a walk – that’s content. Sitting around watching mindless TV, or playing an addictive game on your iPhone on a regular basis (though we need it every once in a while to tune out and unwind) that’s not content. Neither is working more hours than you can really be productive. Read a book instead.
This is my list. What’s yours?
1: Become fluent in [Italian]: [insert language here (or replace with a cooking, wine, art, scuba diving, parachuting, whatever interests you class)]
Remain a student, always. There is no better way to fill your life with content than to remain curious and learn new things. Not everyone has the time to sign up for a weekly class or a private tutor. There are other options out there.
Here’s one I like:
Duolingo - this app is awesome. You can choose almost any language and practice when you have a moment here or there. It can be a language you already are somewhat familiar with, or an entirely new one. You can set daily goals (even just 5 minutes a day) and meet them. I’m studying Italian with it and frankly, I’m addicted.
2: Travel to [India]: [insert any country, state, monument, city, village that you’ve been dreaming about]
My father is from Argentina (and did me the favor of teaching me Spanish) and my family members are all travel addicts. I was brought up learning to appreciate what the world has to offer. I was also very lucky to have parents and grandparents that took me with them to see the world and instilled in me their obsession as I’ve grown older. Every new place I go to adds a little perspective to who I am. It makes me richer. More sophisticated. More experienced. I am convinced that part of feeling like you’re living life to the fullest is to travel. Sometimes we have time for major trips, other times shorter ones to closer destinations will have to do. Whatever you do, don’t put it off until you have more time. Life gets more complicated, not less. Make travelling a priority.
I’ve been to most of South and Central America, some parts of the Middle East, I’m from the East Coast of the US, and I’ve travelled Europe extensively. I’m dreaming about a trip to India. I’ve chosen this as my next destination for a major trip because it’s so different than every place I’ve traveled to before. I want a destination packed with culture and colors. I want to see the Taj Mahal (that’s on my bucket list). I want to eat authentic Indian food. There are lots of ways to travel to India. I’ve passed the backpacking days. I want to do a 5 star deluxe trip. I want to experience Indian opulence.
3: Create an Instagram food diary
Here’s why this excites me: I love food. I love the way it can be made to look like art and I love the ways it can satisfy you on a cold winter day or a summery night. I love how it brings people together. I also love to cook. I love the challenge. I love seeing the faces of happy people at my home eating my food.
Documenting the memorable meals I’ve had at great restaurants in my home town and around the world, and the ones I’ve cooked at home, is a way to collect memories. It will list the places I’ve been to and will remind me of good times and memorable bites.
If you eat out more often than you do in, it just might encourage you to cheat on your usual dining spot and try a new restaurant. You probably won’t go alone. Which means that you’ll be filling your days with quality time with your partner, friends or your family. Who knows, you may even inspire others to follow your recommendations.
4: Rekindle a friendship with an old friend
Over the years, we make friends at different stages in our lives.
- The elementary school to highschool friends: we meet these friends early. They know us before we know who we are. Sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn’t.
- The college and grad school friends: these often tend to stick the most in the long run. We already have a sense of who we are and seek people with similar interests. We experience things for the first time together. We’re independent enough yet carefree enough to be able to have truly bonding experiences. If spending hours every night in a college bar listening to good music and drinking cheap beer or travelling to an exotic place without a care in the world isn’t enough to connect people, well nothing is.
- The work colleagues: usually these friends are for the convenience of having a buddy at the office or someone that’s good for networking. When we’re lucky, it becomes something more.
- The new friends with kids my kids’ age: this is a time in our lives where we make some new friends through new circles opened to us because we’ve joined the kids club. Sometimes it’s a convenience – someone to play with my kid, someone to ask for parenting advice, someone to go to the park with. Sometimes, it’s a pleasant surprise of a new friend for life.
Once our kids are grown up, our friends are a mix of the list above. Most will get lost along the way. Occasionally we’ll get to meet someone later in life that we can call a friend.
Maybe you have that one friend that you lost touch with. Not because you had a falling out, not because you lost interest, it just happened. That’s the person you should rekindle a friendship with.
Start by being the one to take the first step. Pick up the phone or write a Facebook message, whatever you feel comfortable with. Don’t worry about how long it’s been. Chances are, that person will be super happy to hear from you. It’s a shame to lose out on good friends. They’re hard to come by.
5: Go to the movie theater once a week
Going to the movie theater (yes, I mean buying a ticket and some popcorn and actually going to the theater – not downloading a movie at home) is a dying pastime that needs to be revived. When you watch a movie at home, you’re probably on your ipad and phone at the same time. Your partner or your children will choose to be annoying in the middle. You’re not really concentrating on anything. Going to the movies in a theater means that unless you want to be that person that movie goers hate, you won’t be talking or using your cell phone for 2 straight hours. You’ll concentrate on one thing and hopefully enjoy it. You’re free to think to yourself if you want, but if the movie is good enough, you’ll even have the added benefit of turning off your thoughts for 2 hours too. It’s a much needed respite in our cluttered world.
Even if you can’t act on them just yet, hang that post-it somewhere where you can see it every day. Read through the list often. Eventually, when you’re ready you’ll just pick one and get started. Reading that post-it again and again will be mental preparation enough to take that step and just get going.
If you found this inspiring, how about downloading our "How to make the most of your time on this planet " eBook?